Friday, January 29, 2016

Some 1933 Titles (for Past Offences)

The latest monthly challenge over at Past Offences is to read a book in February, published in 1933. Here are some British/European (& E S Gardner) crime titles to choose from, first published in English in 1933, pulled from my database:

Margery Allingham - The Mystery Man of Soho
Margery Allingham - Other Man's Danger (apa The Man of Dangerous Secrets) (as Maxwell March)
Margery Allingham - Sweet Danger (apa Kingdom of Death/The Fear Sign)
Agatha Christie - Lord Edgware Dies (apa Thirteen at Dinner)
Agatha Christie - The Hound of Death And Other Stories
Erle Stanley Gardner - The Case of the Velvet Claws
Erle Stanley Gardner - The Case of the Sulky Girl
Georgette Heyer - Why Shoot a Butler?
Romilly & Katherine John - Death by Request
J C Masterman - An Oxford Tragedy
Dorothy L Sayers - Murder Must Advertise
Dorothy L Sayers - Hangman's Holiday
Georges Simenon - The House by the Canal
Georges Simenon - The Lock at Charenton (apa Maigret Sits it Out)
Georges Simenon - Tropic Moon
Georges Simenon - The Night Club
Georges Simenon - The Window over the Way
Georges Simenon - The Woman of the Grey House
Georges Simenon - Newhaven-Dieppe
Georges Simenon - Mr Hire's Engagment (apa The Engagement)
Beryl Symons - Blind Justice
Patricia Wentworth - Walk with Care
Patricia Wentworth - Seven Green Stones (apa Outrageous Fortune)
Dennis Wheatley - The Forbidden Territory

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: The Drowned Boy by Karin Fossum tr. Kari Dickson

The Drowned Boy by Karin Fossum, tr. Kari Dickson (June 2015, 256 pages, Harvill Secker, ISBN: 1846558549)

Book ten in Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer series, THE CALLER, was published four years ago and though we've been treated to a new Fossum every year since, (books one and seven in the series plus a standalone), it's only now that we get to book eleven in the series and discover what ails our sympathetic and empathetic lead detective.

Before that however, Sejer's sidekick the younger and devout Skarre is called out to a drowning incident. The victim, Tommy, is a sixteen-month-old baby with Down's Syndrome. His mother, the very young and beautiful Carmen, says that she left Tommy alone for a few minutes in the house and when she came back he had wandered out, across the garden and into the pond opposite. She went in after him but all efforts to revive Tommy by her and her husband Nicolai and subsequently the emergency services failed.

Skarre feels there's something odd about the situation and calls Sejer and asks him to come out to the scene of the accident. There is no evidence of foul play, however the couple are interviewed separately and Carmen's story is a bit confused.

Sejer and Skarre must wait for the autopsy results to see if there is any reason to doubt Carmen's story.

Much of the subsequent book is given over to how the young couple are coping with the death of their only child. Carmen is strong and wants to start anew with a new baby and new baby furniture whereas Nicolai is heartbroken and sinks into a deep depression.

Like Sejer, the reader is itching to know what really happened to Tommy. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Carmen is not a very likeable person but would she really kill her own child?

Fossum's intelligent writing touches on all aspects of having a disabled child, and uses her atheist and believer pair of detectives to discuss religion and faith. This is a particularly sad entry in her series, infused with grief and to a lesser degree, Sejer's fear that he is seriously ill. This is not a book to enjoy in the traditional sense but there is much to admire and ponder on. I'm pleased to see that book twelve, HELL FIRE, is scheduled for June 2016.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Euro Crime Favourite Reads of 2015

I've asked the recent contributors to Euro Crime to choose their favourite European reads of 2015 and a total of 61 titles have been submitted. The following favourites come from the lists submitted by: Mark Bailey, Amanda Gillies, Terry Halligan, Lynn Harvey, Geoff Jones, Michelle Peckham, Norman Price, Laura Root, Ewa Sherman, Susan White and myself. The breakdown by reviewer, with additional recommendations and any additional comments they have made, can be found here.

Of the 61, 33% were in translation and 33% were by female authors.

The most mentioned titles are:

2 votes:

Kati Hiekkapelto – The Hummingbird tr. David Hackston

Arnaldur Indridason - Oblivion  tr. Victoria Cribb

Ragnar Jonasson - Snowblind  tr. Quentin Bates

Anya Lipska - A Devil Under the Skin

The most mentioned authors (irrespective of title) are:

3 votes:

Kati Hiekkapelto
Arnaldur Indridason

2 votes:

Ragnar Jonasson
Anya Lipska

The most mentioned translator is:

4 votes:

Victoria Cribb (Arnaldur Indridason, Yrsa Sigurdardottir)

All the titles mentioned in the best of lists:

Adrian McKinty – Gun Street Girl
Alex Howard – Cold Revenge
Alex Marwood - The Darkest Secret
Antonia Hodgson – The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins
Anya Lipska - A Devil Under the Skin
Anya Lipska - A Devil Under the Skin
Arnaldur Indridason – Oblivion tr. Victoria Cribb
Arnaldur Indridason – Reykjavik Nights tr. Victoria Cribb
Ausma Zehanat Khan - The Unquiet Dead
Belinda Bauer - The Shut Eye
Brian McGilloway - Preserve the Dead
Charles Belfoure - The Paris Architect
Christianna Brand - Green for Danger
Craig Russell – The Ghosts of Altona
David Downing – One Man's Flag
Denise Mina - Blood Salt Water
Deon Meyer – Icarus tr. K L Seegers
Doug Johnstone – The Jump
Gunnar Staalesen – We Shall Inherit the Wind tr. Don Bartlett
Hania Allen – Double Tap
Hans Olav Lalhum - Satellite People - tr. Kari Dickson
Henning Mankell – An Event in Autumn tr. Laurie Thompson
Ian Caldwell – The Fifth Gospel
Jake Woodhouse - Into the Night
John Harvey - Darkness Darkness
Jorn Lier Horst - The Hunting Dogs tr. Anne Bruce
Joseph Kanon – Leaving Berlin
Jussi Adler-Olsen - The Marco Effect/Buried tr. Martin Aitken
Karim Miske – Arab Jazz tr Sam Gordon
Kati Hiekkapelto – The Defenceless tr. David Hackston
Kati Hiekkapelto – The Hummingbird tr. David Hackston
Keigo Higashino - Malice - tr. Alexander O Smith
Leigh Russell – Blood Axe
Luca Veste - The Dying Place
M H Baylis – Black Day at the Bosphorus Cafe
M J Arlidge – Eeny Meeny
M J Carter – The Infidel Strain
M R C Kasasian - Death Descends on Saturn Villa
Maurizio De Giovanni – Viper tr. Anthony Shugar
Michael J Malone – Beyond the Rage
Mick Herron – Nobody Walks
Paul Johnston - Heads or Hearts
Philip Kerr – The Lady from Zagreb
Pierre Lemaitre - Camille tr. Frank Wynne
Rachel Abbott – Stranger Child
Ragnar Jonasson – Snowblind tr. Quentin Bates
Rebecca Whitney – Liar's Chair
Robert Karjel - My Name is N tr. Nancy Pick & Robert Karjel 
Ruth Downie – Tabula Rasa
Ruth Dugdall – Humber Boy B
S J Deas – the Protector
Sarah Ward - In Bitter Chill
Steve Cavanagh – The Defence
Stuart Neville – Those We Left Behind
Tim Weaver – Fall From Grace
William Shaw – The Book of Scars
Yrsa Sigurdardottir - The Silence of the Sea tr. Victoria Cribb
Zygmunt Miloszewski – Entanglement tr. Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Friday, January 22, 2016

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2015 - Karen

The Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2015 - individual posts - concludes today with my own offering. I will be doing a post revealing the overall Euro Crime favourite authors, titles and translators of 2015 - I've not compiled the list yet but this year it feels like there is less of a consensus compared to previous years.

My favourite reads of 2015

On Good Reads I have awarded 5 stars to three books this year and in author order they are:

M R C Kasasian - Death Descends on Saturn Villa
I read this during a difficult time for me and thankfully the latter didn't reduce my enjoyment of this third entry in the Gower Street Detective series.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir - The Silence of the Sea tr. Victoria Cribb
This was the very epitome of a page-turner. I could not put it down. A very worthy winner of the Petrona Award 2015 for best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.
A yacht returns to Reykjavik with no-one on board though a family and a crew were on it when it left Portugal. Thora is hired by the grand-parents of the surviving child who did not go on the ill-fated trip to prove that the parents are dead. The narrative is split between Thora's investigations and a recounting of what happened aboard the yacht and is an extremely tense and compulsive read.

Sarah Ward - In Bitter Chill
A very atmospheric rural-noir crime novel which has both believable characters and a good plot. My review is here.

I have given 4 stars to more than two books and it's quite difficult to separate them however I'm going to plump for:

Jorn Lier Horst - The Hunting Dogs tr. Anne Bruce
This entry sees Wisting suspended and suspected of falsifying evidence. Wisting is a likeable, empathetic character who has an awkward relationship with his daughter Line a journalist. Line often ends up, though in a naturalistic way, running a parallel investigation into Wisting's cases from a “news” point of view.

Robert Karjel - My Name is N tr. Nancy Pick & Robert Karjel 
Here is part of the official blurb: "Ernst Grip of the Swedish security police has no idea why he is being summoned to the U.S. When he lands at a remote military base in the Indian Ocean, his escort, FBI agent Shauna Friedman, asks him to determine whether a prisoner who has been tortured by the CIA is a Swedish citizen.
At the military base, the prisoner, known only as N., refuses to talk. It appears he was involved in an Islamist-inspired terror attack in Topeka, Kansas. The attack was real, but the motivations behind it are not so simple. Evidence points to a group of desperate souls who survived the 2004 Thailand tsunami: a ruthless American arms dealer, a Czech hit man, a mysterious nurse from Kansas, a heartbreakingly naïve Pakistani – and a Swede."
An interesting book which is a bit different, and a thriller on a global stage.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2015 - Ewa

In today's penultimate entry of the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2015, it's Ewa Sherman's turn to detail her favourites:

Ewa Sherman's favourite reads of 2015

I had an opportunity to read some amazing and thought provoking books that provided many thrills and emotions, and expanded my knowledge about European writing (and countries) so choosing a top five favourites is a challenge...

For a start The Hummingbird, by the fascinating Kati Hiekkapelto and translated by David Hackston, was a revelation. The Finnish writer, punk singer and performance artist created a real female heroine, fighting for justice for those with no voice: immigrants in a snowy fictional town. Through the eyes of Anna Fekete who fled ex-Yugoslavia as a child, now a competent police officer in her adopted country, Hiekkapelto poses a question of where individuals fit within a society. Intelligent powerful prose, in a very measured manner expressing the anger at modern world. Quite rightly so.

We Shall Inherit the Wind, finally published in English (translated by Don Bartlett), reintroduced me to the Norwegian author Gunnar Staalesen. The story brings together environmental terrorism, religious fanaticism and family secrets, but most of all it can be read as a love story. Social worker turned private investigator Varg Veum is one of my favourite fictional characters, both in print and on screen. I watched nine films based on Staalesen’s novels, which are more graphically violent than the original writing but very engaging, exciting and showing the underbelly of peaceful and beautiful Norway. Nothing is ever perfect but often great writing comes very close to perfection.

And then there is Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson, masterfully translated by Quentin Bates, himself an author of books set in Iceland. What a wonderful introduction to the Dark Iceland series by a writer fully exploring his knowledge of intricacies of Icelandic society and nature, with a lightness of pen, intelligent plotting, and desire to put his own mark on the classic murder mystery. The sense of claustrophobia is created by the constant darkness and the unknown environment of a small remote town. A young policeman Ari Thor Arason on his first posting experiences isolation and uncertainty. But over the course of other books he might graduate to the same level as Arnaldur Indriðason’s famous detective...

Indriðason, the King of Icelandic crime fiction and a master storyteller, weaves history, geography and social issues, and creates the perfect sense of location. I’ve read the recent Reykjavik Nights (paperback) and Oblivion (hardback), in sensitive translation by Victoria Cribb, at the same time so I would like to include them as one entry. They both provide background story for the young Erlendur Sveinsson who is both endearing in his pursuit of justice/closure, and infuriating because of his doggedness and lack of communication. But he became the iconic gloomy Icelandic policeman and these two instalments throw some light on the circumstances that made the compassionate man we know from previous novels.

I also love to travel by means of excellent writing, and so The Ghosts of Altona by Craig Russell took me to Hamburg’s district of Altona, a protagonist in its own right. This is a most disturbing and compelling modern stylish Gothic story set in the 21st Century. Jan Fabel, Head of Hamburg’s Murder Commission, investigating a gruesome murder of a charismatic woman and struggling with the aftermath of his Near Death Experience, is an awe inspiring character. He’s so well developed that I felt I could know him in real life. At the time I was also watching 1864, the Danish heart-breaking historical drama, where northern Germany features heavily, and hence by connecting the TV production with restrained Russell’s writing, I travelled back to my favourite region: Scandinavia.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2015 - Lynn

Lynn Harvey selects her favourites in today's instalment of the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2015:

Lynn Harvey's favourite reads of 2015

All five of my 2015 favourites show my liking for a drop of social, political or the psychological in crime – I cannot help it, I am that kind of girl. So, in alphabetical order by writer, let me give you:

Baylis, M H – Black Day at the Bosphorus Cafe
I've come to enjoy this home-grown, North London based series featuring local journo Rex Tracey so much that I demanded the first book (A DEATH AT THE PALACE) as a birthday present recently. BLACK DAY.. is the series' third. As usual, Rex is up to his neck in his chaotic personal life together with the consequences of his intuition about a local death – the apparent suicide of a young PKK supporter. Vivid, witty, compassionate writing from M H Baylis, with more plot than you can shake a stick at.

Mankell, Henning – An Event in Autumn
Translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson
And it is easy to think that I include this novella because of the loss of Mankell to cancer this year. But I don't. It is a precise jewel marked by Mankell's dispassionate observation of both crime and human nature. It is also perhaps a gentler way for us to say good-bye to his creation Kurt Wallander than some readers found true of THE TROUBLED MAN.

Miloszewski, Zygmunt – Entanglement
Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Not a new publication but my first Polish crime-read. It has a classic whodunnit structure dipped into the worlds of psychotherapy and the post-Communist struggle with the tendrils of Soviet secret-policing. It was adapted as a radio play by Mark Lawson for the BBC and broadcast in late 2015. Don't let on, but I didn't like some of the changes made to the characters, so I'm going to read Miloszewski's subsequent crime novel featuring Prosecutor Szacki to see if I read him wrong.

Miske, Karim – Arab Jazz
Translated from the French by Sam Gordon
Karim Miske's social insights contained in this murder mystery set in the multicultural mixing pot of Paris's 19th Arrondissement, although written several years ago, proved horrifically prophetic in the Charlie Hebdo killings which took place shortly after its January publication and the later dreadful events of November. Nevertheless I hope we will get the chance to read more of gentle Ahmed (such a prime suspect for the murder of his neighbour) and the eccentric Lieutenants Kupferstein and Hamelot of the Paris police. This is one for all crime readers who love the distinctive flavour of French crime-writing.

Neville, Stuart – Those We Left Behind
Neville has become a writer to reckon with. Having written a series of gripping, slightly eerie crime books set in post-Troubles Northern Ireland; a factional thriller (RATLINES) set amidst corrupt politics in 1960s Ireland; his latest brings us a new protagonist (DCI Serena Flanagan) and a shift in subject matter with a crime story rooted in the dysfunctional lives of two brothers, one of whom was convicted of murder whilst still a juvenile. A master of suspense and gripping plot, Neville also brings a chilling psychological empathy to the table with this one.

So … I'd like to go on with more titles but five is the rule.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2015 - Terry

In today's instalment of the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2015, it's Terry Halligan's two sets of favourites:

Terry Halligan's favourite reads of 2015

It is so difficult to narrow down to just five - so I thought I'd do my top five historical and separately top five modern ones. My top fives are in no particular order and are as follows:-


1. The Protector by S J Deas
Oliver Cromwell once again, asks our protagonist to investigate a crime perpetuated this time against the poet John Milton

2. One Man's Flag by David Downing
First World War SIS agent investigates plots in India and Ireland

3. The Book Of Scars by William Shaw
Superb police procedural set in 1969 and influenced by the Mau-Mau emergency in Kenya

4. The Last Confession Of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson
How can an innocent man on the way to gallows redeem himself?

5. The Infidel Stain by M.J.Carter.
Investigation in London of the 1840s, by Jeremiah Blake and Captain William Avery, into several brutal murders.


1. Eeny Meeny by M J Arlidge
Compulsive debut novel of apparent random murders.

2. Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott
Mother killed and child kidnapped but six years later the child mysteriously re-appears. What happened?

3. Fall From Grace by Tim Weaver
Retired police superintendent suddenly disappears from isolated cottage on Dartmoor.

4. Nobody Walks by Mick Herron
Son of retired SIS agent dies in mysterious circumstances and agent comes back to avenge his death.

5. Icarus By Deon Meyer tr K L Seegers
Lapsed alcoholic cop Benny Griessel investigates murder of head of on-line agency that provides alibis for adulterers!
​I read so many really excellent books in this last year​ it is truly very hard to compile this list.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2015 - Michelle

In today's instalment of the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2015, it's Michelle Peckham's favourites:

Michelle Peckham's favourite reads of 2015

1. Ausma Zehanat Khan - The Unquiet Dead

2. Belinda Bauer - The Shut Eye

3. Jussi Adler-Olsen - The Marco Effect/Buried tr. Martin Aitken

4. Denise Mina - Blood Salt Water

5. Anya Lipska - A Devil Under the Skin

Friday, January 15, 2016

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2015 - Susan

In today's instalment of the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2015, it's Susan White's favourite Euro Crime titles:

Susan White's favourite reads of 2015

Tabula Rasa - Ruth Downie - This is set in Britain at the time of the Roman occupation when Hadrian's Wall is being built. The Wall is creating great tension between the locals, many of whom have been relocated from farms that have been in their families for many generations, and the occupying forces. Gaius Petreius Ruso is a doctor and his wife, Tilla, a local born Briton, a healer who do their best to minister to both Romans and Britons. The author's awareness of historic time and place comes through very clearly. Her knowledge and understanding of the period really enhances the book. A very enjoyable read.

Liar's Chair
- Rebecca Whitney - A woman driving carelessly home from a meeting with her lover is enjoying the power of her car and revelling in its speed as she pushes herself and the car to its limits when she loses control. She is horrified when she finds that she has knocked down and killed a tramp well known in the area. She hurriedly drags the body into hiding and continues home to the luxurious house she shares with her husband. A powerful and fast moving story set around Brighton. A debut novel that is written with assurance, dealing with powerful themes, including violence in marriage. Recommended as a good read.

Humber Boy B
- Ruth Dugdall - A ten-year-old boy, Noah, falls from the Humber Bridge while out with his friends. His friend, another ten-year-old boy, is found guilty of his murder. Eight years later Humber Boy B, or Ben as he is called now, is parolled from prison and relocated to Ipswich. The author has worked with young children that have been committed to prison for similar crimes that form the basis for this story and this experience shows through in the writing. The boy at the centre of the story comes from such an emotional and physically deprived environment that, while making no attempt to provide excuses for Ben, the author manages to generate a degree of sympathy that for him that took me by surprise.

Cold Revenge
- Alex Howard - A young woman is found dead after what appears to be a meeting with one of her lovers that went drastically wrong. She was an aspiring journalist who was writing a blog about her adventures. She attended classes in Philosophy with Professor Gideon Fuller and the police focus their attention on him as he is well known for his interest in the same sort of sex games. While there is a degree of violence in the book, some with a graphic sexual content which may well take many readers outside their comfort zone, on balance I feel that this, while uncomfortable to read, is necessary for the storyline. It is a good read with an interesting, though very flawed, main character.

Double Tap - Hania Allen - A former senior detective in the police force has resigned and moved from London back to Edinburgh in order to look after her daughter and new grand daughter. Von Valenti now works as private detective and her latest case is to locate a young man with mental health problems that has left home to live on the streets. The young man, Phil, has always remained in touch with his mother but when he fails to meet her she employs Von to find him. Threaded through the story is Von's difficult and demanding relationship with her daughter. The daughter who was brought up by her grandparents as Von concentrated on her career. Now Von is finding that her daughter, barely an adult, is not ready for the responsibilities of being a mother either.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2015 - Geoff

In today's instalment of the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2015, it's Geoff Jones's turn to share his favourite Euro Crime titles:

Geoff Jones's favourite reads of 2015

Alex Marwood - The Darkest Secret

John Harvey - Darkness Darkness

Pierre Lemaitre - Camille tr. Frank Wynne

Anya Lipska - A Devil Under the Skin

Jake Woodhouse - Into the Night

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2015 - Norman

Today Norman Price reveals his favourite Euro Crime titles, in the latest instalment of the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2015.

Norman Price's favourite reads of 2015

I did not read as many books as I usually do that could be classified as Eurocrime in 2015.
I was distracted for much of the year by both pleasant and unpleasant events, and several of my best reads came from the other side of the Atlantic.

But British and European authors also produced some great reads. I only reviewed one book for Euro Crime during the year and it was one of my top five:
1] The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr.

The tenth novel in the Bernie Gunther series was another great read bringing the reader excitement, tension, great characters and a nice dollop of historical education about the war in the Balkans. An adult read because of the accounts of the particular horror of the Second World War in Yugoslavia, where ethnic tensions exploded in an orgy of killing that were to repeat themselves in the 1990s.
I was rather pleased that a brief section of my review for Euro Crime was used in the paperback version of the book located between blurbs by the Irish Times and The Sun.

2] and 3] The Hummingbird and The Defenceless by Kati Hiekkapelto translated by David Hackston

The explosion of Nordic noir that has hit our bookshelves, and TV screens, since the Stieg Larsson phenomena has meant that as well as some very good examples we have also seen some pretty poor stuff. If it is Nordic it must have a market has been the mantra.
It is nice to report that in Finnish author Kati Hiekkapelto we have a Nordic author, who is so good her books remind me of the Martin Beck series. The novels are set in a Northern Finnish coastal town and feature the classic combination of mismatched detective colleagues. Young attractive Anna Fekete, an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia of Hungarian ethnicity, and Esko, a middle aged Finnish redneck, a racist with a slightly soft centre beneath the harsh exterior. The books discuss some of the major problems of our time, immigration, the status of minorities, racism and loneliness, blending social commentary and police procedural quite brilliantly.

4] Viper by Maurizio De Giovanni translated by Anthony Shugar

is another in the superb series set in Fascist Italy in the 1930s. The murder of a beautiful prostitute leads Commissario Ricciardi and his portly colleague to investigate a series of suspects. But in my opinion it is the two subplots, one involving the conversations and political jokes between Ricciardi, Maione and pathologist Dr Bruno Modi, that add spice to a story in a country where one wrong word can lead you to fall into the clutches of the OVRA, Mussolini's frightening secret police. The second subplot is the love triangle as two very different women, Livia the worldly glamourous widow and Enrica the shy bespectacled neighbour, struggle to attract Ricciardi's attention.

5] Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon

A spy story set in post-war Berlin that emphasises the desperate situation in a defeated country, and that the Soviet liberators are not that different from the former Fascist rulers.
It is sometimes a distressing read as dedicated communists slowly realise that the socialist state they arrived at hoping for some kind of utopia will eventually become the only country in history that builds a wall to keep people in rather than out.
The tragedy is made more real by the current situation in Britain where a major political party has been hijacked by people who wave Mao's little red book around in the Houses of Parliament, and apparently wish to recreate that GDR [East German Stasi state] in England's green and pleasant fields.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2015 - Laura

In today's instalment of the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2015, Laura Root unveils her favourite Euro Crime titles:

Laura Root's favourite reads of 2015

Ragnar Jonasson - Snowblind - tr. Quentin Bates

Keigo Higashino - Malice - tr. Alexander O Smith

Hans Olav Lalhum - Satellite People - tr. Kari Dickson

Arnaldur Indridason - Oblivion - tr. Victoria Cribb

Christianna Brand - Green for Danger

Friday, January 08, 2016

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2015 - Mark

In today's instalment of the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2015, Mark Bailey reveals his favourite Euro Crime titles:

Mark Bailey's favourite reads of 2015

Of the new releases in 2015, I would strongly recommend (in alphabetical order by author as I don’t want to choose an order)

Cavanagh, Steve – The Defence. Eddie Flynn is a New York lawyer who has not set foot inside a courtroom for over a year; he has to return to the courtroom when he has to defend the head of the Russian Mafia in New York who have Eddie's ten-year-old daughter Amy in a safe house. I am not usually a big fan of legal thrillers but I was persuaded to read this one by the reviews I read elsewhere – this is a really really impressive debut novel. Eddie Flynn is engaging character whom you do root for despite his murky past and present – he is a kind of ‘if you get given lemons you make lemonade’ guy who thinks on his feet and has friends who can help him out of an hole on both sides of the law.

Johnston, Paul - Heads or Hearts. The sixth novel in the series of novels featuring Quint Dalrymple and the first new novel for fourteen years (Skeleton Blues followed later in the year). The Year is 2033 and the UK along with most of the world, was torn apart by civil wars and criminal gangs in the early years of the twenty-first century. A referendum is looming to reform Scotland from its disparate elements – a quasi-democratic Glasgow, a quasi-monarchy in parts of the Isles and other systems elsewhere - when a human heart has been found on the football pitch at Tynecastle, rather appropriately the home of Heart of Midlothian Football Club. Quint Dalrymple is called in and the body count goes up before he uncovers a link to the planned referendum. This is a good mix of science fiction and crime fiction set in the future but with very limited technology (lower-level than what most people have access to today) with an engaging plot that goes along at a rate of knots and you can understand the motivation of the characters whilst not agreeing with them.

McGilloway, Brian - Preserve the Dead. A solid police procedural driven by old-fashioned detective work rather than technology and set against a backdrop of social unrest (the police are not trusted by large parts of the community, both Protestant and Catholic) and the aftermath of the collapse of the Celtic tiger which has left people adrift and vulnerable; although this is the third in a series, I feel that you could start with this one and read the others later.

McKinty, Adrian - Gun Street Girl. The fourth in the Sean Duffy trilogy (the fifth is out in January 2016) set in and around Carrickfergus in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Sean Duffy is struggling with burn-out and leaves the investigation of a brutal double murder in Whitehead to DS McCrabban and the two new DCs as it seems very neat and tidy. This is a very assured police procedural with a serious theme at its heart - the peace process - and great writing which is strongly literate but still keeps you engaged and turning the page.

Veste, Luca - The Dying Place. The second novel by Luca Veste featuring DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi. DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi make a grisly discovery in front of a church in Liverpool of the body of a teenage boy – his torso covered with the unmistakable marks of torture. They discover that the seventeen-year-old boy had been reported missing by his mother six months ago but no one has been looking for him – he was a known troublemaker but did no one care if he was alive or dead? The police soon realise that Dean Hughes is not the only boy who has gone missing in similar circumstances and that someone in Liverpool is abducting troubled teens with terrifying plans for them. Someone who thinks they are above the law. The criminology background of the author is apparent as the story highlights the impact of violent crime on the families of victims and how society, the police and the media have an implicit (and sometimes explicit) hierarchy of victims.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2015 - Amanda

Having revealed our favourite discoveries of 2015, here are the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite European/translated reads of 2015. I'll be posting individual lists to begin with, followed by the usual summary post.

Amanda Gillies's favourite reads of 2015

In numerical order:

1. The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell
2. The Jump by Doug Johnstone
3. Beyond the Rage by Michael J Malone
4. The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
5. Blood Axe by Leigh Russell

2015 was another amazing year for books and reviewing. Thanks to Karen for having me along for another year – my ninth, I believe. As usual, this list was very difficult to compile but my Top Five are all outstanding books that I loved from start to finish. Some had me laughing, others sobbing, but they were all compelling reading and an utter joy to review. My Number One choice – The Fifth Gospel - is a beautiful story and if you haven’t read it yet then you must do so soon.

Best wishes

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Favourite Discoveries of 2015 (9)

In this, the last of the Favourite Discovery of 2015 posts, Geoff Jones chooses a new to him author.

Geoff Jones's Favourite Discovery of 2015

My new author has to be Alex Marwood, until I recently read The Darkest Secret I was going to nominate Jake Woodhouse, however Alex's book was brilliant, certainly an unputdownable one. The characters, the plot, the storytelling were first rate.

As you may suspect she is a journalist of some renown under her given name of Serena Mackesy. She has written a few books under her own name. However she really caught the crime and mystery readers attention under her pseudonym, with The Wicked Girls and The Killer Next Door.

Read them and enjoy a master storyteller.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Favourite Discoveries of 2015 (8)

The penultimate entry in the series of posts containing the Euro Crime reviewers' Favourite Discoveries of 2015 is my own, rambling contribution!

Firstly, to continue the DVD theme of previous posts, I have two recommendations:

The Saboteurs which was shown on tv but I caught up with on DVD courtesy of the library.

It's the Second Word War and the story is told from the point view of the Germans, the British and the Norwegians; it revolves around the production of heavy water in Norway which is wanted in Germany to create an atomic bomb.

When a Norwegian scientist escapes to Britain he is recruited to oversee the Allies operation to infiltrate the Norwegian factory in Telemark and destroy its heavy water making facilities.

With a multi-national cast speaking in their own languages this was a gripping drama and having not seen the film The Heroes of Telemark and showing my ignorance of this time period, this was all new to me.

My second recommendation is Agent Carter which though set in the US stars a trio of British actors: Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper and the (hilarious) James D'Arcy - unrecognisable from Broadchurch.

It's 1946 New York and Atwell plays Peggy Carter, a British agent with the Strategic Scientific Reserve. She has been relegated to tea-making even though she's sharper than all the male agents put together.

Agent Carter is recruited by Howard Stark to clear his name which means going against the organisation she works for.

So begins a cat and mouse chase with the net ever tightening on Peggy.

I was a little dubious after the first episode which was very Alias-y with Peggy in a wig however I stuck with it and found it very tense and enjoyable.

Next, going off topic a little now, 2015 was the year I rediscovered my interest in the Tudor period. I think it began with the superlative Wolf Hall drama - the soundtrack is marvellous - though my OH refers to it as "that melancholy music"...

Then, as the library has not been buying as many books this year due to a book fund "pause", I have been trying books I perhaps wouldn't have usually. And so Philippa Gregory's The Taming of the Queen, about Catherine Parr, fell into my hands. And so the Tudor floodgates have opened. I have bought a box-set of Jean Plaidy books - I may have read some of these a long time ago but it's so long ago they'll seem fresh! - and have checked out from the library, books on Henry VIII's queens. So far I've concentrated my reading on Catherine Parr and can recommend Elizabeth Norton's The Temptation Of Elizabeth Tudor which covers the time when Elizabeth was staying with her step-mother, as well as Norton's biography, Catherine Parr.

My other rediscovery is Michael Connelly - but more on him in a separate post.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Favourite Discoveries of 2015 (7)

Michelle Peckham picks a ground-breaking British tv series as her Favourite Discovery of 2015.

Michelle Peckham's Favourite Discovery of 2015

Prime Suspect: all 7 series (which were reshown on the TV this year, but were also available to download on special offer).

I don’t think I ever watched all of these, and was particularly interested in the first couple of series.

Helen Mirren makes for an excellent detective in these police procedurals, a strong woman in a man’s world, giving perhaps too much to the job, with her private life suffering as a consequence. She is dedicated, committed, and a clever manipulator.

Excellent watching!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Favourite Discoveries of 2015 (6)

Norman Price champions the star of two British crime series in his Favourite Discovery of 2015.

Norman Price's Favourite Discovery of 2015

My Favourite Discovery of 2015 was Nicola Walker

Nicola Walker has had a long acting career starting with the Cambridge Footlights, and going on to have roles top TV series such as Spooks, Last Tango in Halifax and Scott and Bailey.

But 2015 was the year she starred in two brilliant crime series, Unforgotten on ITV, which premiered on 8 October, and River on BBC1, which premiered on the 13 October.

In River she played DS Stevie Stevenson, former partner of the troubled DI John River played by Stellan Skarsgard, who sees dead people. As with most good crime series on TV the supporting cast was excellent with long suffering DS Ira King played by Adeel Akhtar, as River's new partner, and the superb Leslie Manville as DCI Chrissie Read.

Unforgotten covers the complex investigation into a 39 year old murder with Nicola Walker in charge as DCI Cassie Stuart, with her assistant DS Sunil "Sunny" Khan, played by Sanjeev Bhaskar. Once I got used to the disconcerting situation that Walker was playing two police parts on different channels, and that Sanjeev Bhaskar is best known as a comedian, I really enjoyed Unforgotten. These two were really a great combination and were not overshadowed by a supporting cast of acting heavyweights including Tom Courtenay, Bernard Hill, Peter Egan, Trevor Eve, Cherie Lunghi and Hannah Gordon among others.

Both these home grown series were top notch and it shows that we don't have to rely on Nordic or US television for our diet of crime fiction. If you haven't watched them you are in for a treat. I will be on the look out for anything starring Nicola Walker in future.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Favourite Discoveries of 2015 (5)

It's Terry Halligan's turn to reveal his Favourite Discoveries of 2015 and these are two subtitled series, available on DVD.

Terry Halligan's Favourite Discoveries of 2015

Generation War in German with subtitles and is in a two DVD set.

Career-soldier Wilhelm, his pacifist younger brother Friedhelm, and their friends Charlotte, Viktor and Greta say farewell in the summer of 1941 in Berlin, with the promise to meet again after the war. Wilhelm and his brother have been ordered to the eastern front, Charlotte will join them as a nurse in a field hospital there. In Berlin, Greta makes a name for herself as a singer, with the help of a high-ranking party official. Her Jewish boyfriend, Viktor is despatched to a concentration camp in the east. Little do they know how much the unfathomable experiences, deprivations and terrors of the war will change them. It is the experiences of friendship and betrayal, belief and disappointment, illusion and insight, guilt and responsibility that will change their lives forever. 

I was very moved by the story which I found brilliantly told and particularly interesting as it is told from a different viewpoint to the usual British or American one that one is so used to.

Braquo is the name of a French police detective series. The name relates to French slang for "heist"and the programme which stretches over several series, details the adventures of Hauts-de-Seine's district police department and in particular four best friends and colleagues who are out to avenge the death of a colleague who committed suicide after being unfairly blamed after a failed operation. It is not for the more sensitive viewer who is easily shocked as it is very brutal in the storyline. In the first episode a police officer rams a biro into the eye of a rape suspect and it continues on the same lines throughout several series. It is said to be France's alternative to The Wire or The Shield.

I watched three complete series of this very dramatic programme with great enjoyment and can't wait for the fourth.

In the meantime I've ordered another French detective TV box set, Spiral, which runs to five series so far and I'm looking forward to viewing it in due course.